Monday, April 30, 2007

6:00 PM, Game 3 Hit's 40 in Buffalo

Mike and the Mad Dog reported on WFAN radio that at 6:00 PM Game 3 of the Rangers/Sabres series on NBC hit a 40.0 local rating in Buffalo while doing a 4.0 in the NYC area. Nationally, the game drew a 1.3 rating and 3 share.

Full ratings details to come later.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Regular Season Average & Playoff Ratings

Alan Pergament of the Buffalo News reports on what can only be described as gigantic ratings for the round 2 opener against the NY Rangers on VS. Also of note, the final game of the Islanders series and the final regular season average:

The game had a 25.2 rating, which is about 2 1/2 times what the Sabres’ first-round series with the New York Islanders averaged on MSG even though it was competing with a two-hour edition of “American Idol” (15.9).

The Sabres’ clinching victory over the Islanders on April 20 had only a 9.3 rating, which was lower than the average of the previous four games. The Sabres averaged a 7.0 rating during the regular season, up about 35 percent from the 5.2 they averaged a year ago.

Pergament also addresses the theory that ratings on MSG are being underreported. I've been saying this since February, but the 25.2 VS rating compared to the 9.3 MSG rating seems to finalize that debate.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Round 2 TV Schedule

The Sabres officially announced the Round two schedule this afternoon:

Wednesday, April 25 -- 7:00 p.m.-- Buffalo -- Versus
Friday, April 27 -- 7:00 p.m.-- Buffalo -- MSG
Sunday, April 29 -- 2:00 p.m. -- New York -- NBC
Tuesday, May 1 -- 7:00 p.m. -- New York -- Versus
* Friday, May 4 -- 7:00 p.m. -- Buffalo -- MSG
* Sunday, May 6 -- 2:00 p.m. -- New York -- NBC
* Tuesday, May 8 -- 7:00 p.m. -- Buffalo -- MSG
* If necessary

Versus and NBC will have exclusive rights to Games 1, 3, 4, and 6. Versus wants to capitalize on the huge draw that is a Sabres/Rangers match-up so they made sure to exercise their right to two games of exclusivity on games that will definitely be played. They'll surely be regretting that decision if the series goes to 7 games.

CBC will, in all likelihood, cover the series if Vancouver loses to Dallas in tonight's Game 7. If Vancouver advances, TSN will broadcast Round 2 in Canada.

For American fans outside of the local market, all games will be nationally televised.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Ratings for Round 1 Low

Low is a relative term, but the average rating for the first four playoff games has to be considered a disappointment if the figures are accurate. From Alan Pergament's weekly column:

Perhaps fan overconfidence has led to the surprisingly low ratings for the first four games of the series on MSG, the only channel carrying them. They averaged about a 10.5 rating. That’s about half of what “American Idol” gets and significantly lower than many popular network series.

Obviously, the question that comes to mind is 'why are playoff games getting lower ratings than regular season games?' and the answer may be an inaccuracy in ratings for games aired on MSG. I speculated that something was strange with the MSG ratings in my last post. Pergament may agree:

Of course, the 10.5 rating would be impressive in most cities and the rating doesn’t take into account all the fans who are watching in sports bars. One local researcher also believes MSG’s ratings have been artificially low all season.

It doesn't make sense for Buffalo to have double the ratings Pittsburgh does for Sabre/Penguins matchups on VS, triple the rating for the All-Star game, and identical ratings for regular season local games. VS has the option to pick up two games exclusively in the second round and you can bet that the potential Sabres/Rangers series would be their top choice. I fully expect ratings for these games to be in the upper 20's.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Regular Season Totals

The Sports Business Journal (which unfortunately requires a subscription) listed some final regular season local ratings across the league. Numbers were down in many markets.

Detroit 2006-2007: 3.5
Detroit 2005-2006: 4.5
Detroit 2003-2004: 5.9

Boston 2006-2007: 1.6
Boston 2005-2006: 2.1
Boston 2003-2004: 2.4

Overall, 11 of the 24 U.S. markets saw local rating decreases and 9 markets were steady. Buffalo was one of 4 American markets to see a ratings increase.

The SBJ curiously claimed that the best local ratings in the U.S. were in Buffalo and Pittsburgh. That much is obvious and has been so for the entire season, but it's the actual figure that's surprising. They claim that Buffalo and Pittsburgh both finished the season with a 5.2 rating.

Considering the fact that as of February 6th, MSG was averaging a 5.6 and the huge ratings for nationally televised games (see below) down the stretch, I find that number hard to believe. Granted, nationally televised games do draw more viewers than a typical MSG game, but these figures are evidence of the obviously heightened interest level around Buffalo as the playoffs drew near. It wouldn't be the first time that a national media outlet has made a mistake about ratings on non-FSN channels so we'll have to wait and see what our local researchers say.

12.0 (Buffalo at Pittsburgh, March 13th, VS)
12.2 (Buffalo at Pittsburgh, April 3rd, VS)
16.4 (Buffalo at Philadelphia, April 8th, NBC)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Huge Ratings For Meaningless Finale

The Sabres sole regular season appearance on NBC was effectively meaningless after Buffalo defeated Washington the day before to wrap up the Presidents Trophy, but it drew like a network prime-time hit. From The Buffalo News:

After all, the Sabres’ meaningless loss to the Philadelphia Flyers’ Sunday afternoon averaged a 16.4 rating and 36 share on Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate. To put that in perspective, the Easter Sunday game had higher local ratings than every network series in prime time Sunday night and almost every program all week.

Playoff ratings are expected to be even higher:

The Sabres can be expected to get ratings in the 20s on — and maybe even the 30s — during their first-round series with the New York Islanders. The series will be televised in its entirety on MSG. Versus, the NHL’s national cable partner, will be carrying five of the seven possible games but it will be blacked out here.

Obviously, the ratings for the entire season have been fantastic and no market in the NHL came remotely close to matching Buffalo's TV success. MSG is capitalizing on the team's drawing power by now offering a half-hour pre-game special as well as extended post-game coverage.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Playoff Broadcast Schedule

Game 1: MSG, TSN
Game 2: MSG, Versus, TSN
Game 3: MSG, Versus, TSN
Game 4: MSG, Versus, TSN
Game 5: MSG, Versus, TSN
Game 6: MSG, Versus, TSN
Game 7: MSG, TSN

Versus will be blacked out locally as MSG gets preference for the first two rounds. Versus gets exclusivity for the Conference Finals and the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals. NBC can usurp MSG for the first two rounds (no Sabres/Isles games are scheduled for NBC) and also has the final five games of the Cup Finals.

Keep in mind that the schedules are subject to change based on the longetivity of the series. For non-local Sabre fans, if the Isles push Buffalo to game 7, Versus will likely pick it up.

Ratings Strong As Playoffs Arrive

Alan Pergament of the Buffalo News reports that the Sabres Eastern Conference clinching victory over Pittsburgh drew a very good rating on Versus:
NBC has to be impressed by Buffalo’s TV ratings. The Sabres’ win over Pittsburgh Tuesday to clinch the Eastern Conference title had an incredibly strong 12.2 rating here on Versus even though it was competing for separate hours with “American Idol” (16.9) and “Dancing with the Stars” (11.4).
It will be interesting to see if the first round match-up with the Islanders can crack a 20.0 local average. Versus will try to get Buffalo on the air as much as it can both before and after its exclusive rights kick in.